Just a couple weeks ago, at Catalyst, someone asked me if I was out.
It’s a simple question, and a totally reasonable one. Which doesn’t in any way translate to being simple or easy to answer.
There are so many things to come out as, and so many different capacities to do it in. The first step I guess (and where I usually get stuck) is that you have to know what you are to come out as anything.
It doesn’t bother me to not have a word that feels like me. I, personally, don’t need one. I’ve just been me this whole time, and that’s been just fine. It only bothers me when someone asks and I feel like I’m supposed to have something to say. How could you not know yourself?
But I do know myself. And I know that I’m not either extreme of something we’ve come to collectively see and accept as a spectrum. I don’t identify myself by the partners I’ve had, or the ones I will have down the line. They’re just a part of my experience.
The answer I finally gave was that Katie Mack is out. But Katie Mack never had to come out. She just got to be. Maybe that’s a luxury of Katie Mack existing primarily in a community where at least some degree of fluidity is all but assumed. Maybe, as Katie Mack, I finally felt comfortable and safe enough to let my authentic self speak for her damn self for once in my life. It doesn’t really matter why.
What matters is that I am not Katie Mack. I mean, I am, but that’s not all.
Katie Mack is a part of me, and arguably the truest form. But that’s not the person who clocks into her day job, or goes to dinner with her dad. Katie Mack isn’t going to spend Christmas morning with her family. Someone else does that. That person isn’t out. And it’s fucking hard.
What’s harder than not being out is feeling like I am while being constantly reminded that I’m not. To have so many people close to me who truly know me, and see all of me, while still having so many who don’t.
My duality has bothered me for a while now, but it’s days like today when the space in between hurts the most.
It becomes this ‘enough’ equation that I’m constantly calculating. Do I feel seen enough, do I feel authentically loved enough. I weigh the cost of coming out against the wealth of validation I already have. Do I really need more?
Not coming out never felt like lying (except for when it was). I never thought I was anything worth coming out about. There’s an element of what felt like bi/pan/genitalia-indiscriminate privilege here that needs to be admitted to. If I didn’t want to come out in the first place, I certainly wasn’t going to do it as a serial heteromonogamist. And even in the spaces in between, it was no one’s business who I was fucking, right?
But now… where would I start? This isn’t just about my sex, or my relationship. This is my life. I have crafted a full, fulfilling life in this community. I do work that matters to me. I spend time with people I love. I host a podcast (fuck, I host two of them). I speak at fucking conferences. I meet and talk to amazing people constantly. I show up.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell where real life ends and the fantasy begins. It’s all real, but in the way that both sides of the looking glass were real. Or Narnia. Or Neverland. I think about that. And I think about the lost boys, and those four weirdo kids, and how after long enough those realms feel more like home than where you came from.
Ok. Fine. I’m stalling.
Am I cheating the people in my muggle life out of the opportunity to see me and love me in totality? Yeah. Am I ok with that? Some days. Does the idea of coming out scare the everloving sweatpants off me? You bet your loud and proud ass it does.
If I’m being self-aware, then all of my bullshit surrounding labels and not caring probably comes directly from a place of prolonging the inevitable. But, you know, whatever.
Today may not be my day, and yours may have already come and gone. But, if your day has come, and especially if that day is today… Thank you. I see you, I love you, and I have nothing but profound admiration for you. Congratulations on doing something I haven’t found the strength to yet.
In the meantime…